American Identity

OLLI CSU East Bay 


The American Identity
What does it really mean to be an American in the 21st century?


Bill Garrett, PhD




What does it really mean to be an American today?


Is there still a uniquely "American" disposition, or character? The very question rouses our natural resistance to being stereotyped, or being subjected to a standard of conformity as to the "right" way to think about our cultural identity. In the 21st century, we are forced to recognize deep religious, political, and cultural conflicts─ in many ways we are a stridently divided society. Is democracy still a realistic ideal, or just wishful thinking?


Beneath all such question, a central issue remains: do we still embrace common values?─ are there grounds for a shared cultural identity? We will not be seeking “correct answers.”  Our goal will be to deepen our questions about what it means to be . . . American.






#1: Stumbling upon a Miracle

#2: Tribal World: Group Identity Is All

 #3: The Daily Me

#4: The Constitution in 2020


Supplemental READINGS

Federalist Paper #2

Pericles Funeral Oration; excerpt on citizenship

Five Myths about Treason: C. F. W. Carlton

Power Causes Brain Damage: J. Useem



The Federalist Papers